Novena Tour Day 3—Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene – July 22, 2013

Today is the official Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene. We gathered together at 9:30 in the morning with a few hundred pilgrims that came to the hôtellerie for the procession of the relic of Saint Mary Magdalene (a piece of her tibia) up to the Cave or Grotte of La Sainte-Baume. This is the same relic that the Dominicans brought to California in 2011 for a one-month Relic Tour and to Chicago in 2013 for a one-month Relic Tour. This relic normally resides in the Cave where Mary Magdalene spent the last thirty years of her life—La Sainte-Baume. Last night the Dominicans took it out of the reliquary in the Cave and put it in the traveling reliquary that we saw on the Relic Tour. Then they brought it down the mountain to the chapel in the hôtellerie so that on her feast day (today-July 22nd), all could process up the mountain to the Cave with the relic for a special Mass and celebration.

Saint Mary Magdalene ReliquaryMary Magdalene ProcessionMary Magdalene Procession 2

Throughout the procession we all prayed and sang songs to Saint Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene Procession 3Mary Magdalene Procession 4Mary Magdalene Procession 5

We carried a picnic lunch in our red fleur-de-lis sling bags prepared by Mireille at La Terrasse de la Sainte Baume, the brasserie next to the hôtellerie.

Mariilyn Rose Camilla

Marilyn, Rose and Camilla

Tiny Yorkie

An adorable little Yorkie got the unique pleasure of being carried along in the procession. His mother stopped for a second so Steven and I could take a photo. It reminded Steven of his own little Yorkie, Tiny, who had recently passed but lived with him for almost twenty years. Just seeing this little Yorkie gave Steven great comfort.

Mary Magdalene Procession 7

The mountain is so steep that the only way to climb it is to traverse back and forth many, many times.


 …. and then there are 150 stairs at the top – it is quite a climb!

Vera, who came from Los Angeles, joined us for the feast day procession and picnic.


After the Mass we left all our special intentions in the Cave.


A sweet little girl in pink is kissing the cheek of Jesus. She played around the statue, first whispering something into Mary Magdalene’s ear and patting her hair and then going around Jesus’ feet to kiss the left arm of the Blessed Mother, and as she came down from her tip toes she said to herself, “O, reguardez, les pieds de Jesus!” I was fortunate to see all of this. The statue of the Pieta with Mary Magdalene at Jesus’ feet just outside the Cave of La Sainte-Baume was a gift from La Madeleine Church in Paris.

Lunchat Cave

We ate our picnic lunch inside the Abri du Pelerin just outside the Cave, which is provided as a rest stop for the pilgrims.


Camilla helped Rose and Marilyn come down the mountain.

Chapel St. Pilon

Ofelia and Estelita (two sisters from San Francisco) chose to go up further to the top of the mountain to see Chapel St. Pilon.

Ofelia Estelita

I met Estelita at St. Dominic Catholic Church in San Francisco during the 2011 California Relic Tour. We have kept in touch since then. Estelita has rheumatoid arthritis and has suffered very much in her lifetime. Just after I met her she told me about a dream she had in1990 where Mary Magdalene appeared to her. She was outside of a building and Mary Magdalene called to her and told her to “Come in.” When Estelita walked towards the entrance, water came from above and poured over her like a waterfall. She was completely wet. Then Mary Magdalene approached her and split her long hair in two parts and wrapped it around and over Estelita and dried Estelita with her hair. Ever since this dream Estelita has thought a lot about Mary Magdalene. Even though she was discouraged by people at home to make this difficult climb up the mountain, she was determined to really try to climb to the top….  for Mary Magdalene.

Guide Steven

Steven and I came along as their guides. It was a very long and very slow climb, as you can imagine.

Chapel St. Pilon

Finally we saw the tiny Chapel St. Pilon. It was built on the top of the mountain as a rememberance of where Mary Magdalene was raised up from the Cave by angels seven times a day.

Estelita at Chapel St. Pilon

And yes, Estelita does make it to the top! Here she is just entering the doorway of Chapel St. Pilon.

Ofelia Estelita Chapel St. Pilon

Ofelia was very proud of her sister and Estelita was so happy.

Convent in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

Steven stayed next to Estelita the whole way down. It took so long that we were quite late for our dinner with the Dominican Sisters at their Convent in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. Véronique went ahead of us driving most of our guests and Norbert surprised us by appearing behind us at the bottom of la Fôret. He had come to the forest’s edge with his taxi to take us to the dinner–so kind of him.


After a most delicious dinner in the Convent prepared by the Dominican Sisters we joined them in their own feast day celebration as everyone processed with the Sister’s relic of Saint Mary Magdalene – a piece of her arm bone. These Dominican Sisters are cloistered nuns. This is the one special day where they come out among the people to celebrate the feast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASister’s relic of Saint Mary Magdalene 2

The procession circled the grounds of the Convent and then went into the Chapel. Roberta and I slipped out of the procession to capture a shot of the most beautiful full moon. Can you imagine?  …. a full moon on her feast day–so lovely!

Sister’s relic of Saint Mary Magdalene MoonSister’s Mass of Saint Mary Magdalene

Here we all were (I can see Peggy) at the late night feast day Mass of Saint Mary Magdalene with the Dominican Sisters in their Chapel at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

Sister’s Relic of Saint Mary Magdalene at Altar

The reliquary that was carried in their procession was placed at the foot of the altar.

Arm Bone Relic of Saint Mary Magdalene

A close up of the Sister’s relic–a piece of the arm bone of Saint Mary Magdalene.

Novena to Saint Mary Magdalene—Day 3

Opening Prayer—Saint Mary Magdalene, you who were pardoned by Jesus, you who greatly loved; show us the way to true conversion and purity of heart. With love you followed Jesus to serve him; teach us to freely offer our lives for our brothers and sisters. You stood at the cross of Jesus with Mary and John. Obtain the grace of faith and hope in our sufferings. On Easter morning, you received from Jesus the mission of announcing the resurrection to His disciples. Help me to believe that life is stronger than death, that love triumphs over all. Dearest Saint Mary Magdalene, please intercede on behalf of my special intention (recite your special intention here). Through your intercession, I trust in the Lord, AMEN.

Gospel of Luke 10:38-42—At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard his word. 40 But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. 41 And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Novena Prayer Day 3—We often stereotype the two sisters: Martha, the active life; Mary, the contemplative life. It is difficult therefore, not to conclude that the contemplative life is superior to the active life. It seems rather that Christ’s teaching is about the difference between ‘many things’ and ‘one thing.’  Martha is agitated, tense, and held captive by the many things – because of this she is divided, fragmented, and spread thin. Mary chose the ‘one necessity’: she is entirely at the feet of Christ, listening to the Word, returning to union with God. Martha is anxious, Mary is filled with the joyful blessing of ‘those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.’ Being emptied of her demons is not enough: Mary must again be filled with the grace of God. Otherwise, the impure spirits will return to dwell there, they will find the empty place and there will be seven other spirits more evil than the first; they will enter and live there, and the new condition of the person will become worse than the first. This is such a magnificent reflection on the choices made by the two sisters. People think, “I don’t need to go to confession, I haven‘t killed anyone”; as though this places them in right relationship with God. To say we have not chosen and committed serious sin does not mean we have in fact chosen God. Mary was freed of her demons. She must now choose to be united with the Lord. It is not action vs. contemplation. Rather it is the beatitude, ‘Blessed are the single-hearted, they shall see God.’ There is only one choice and that is to keep one’s attention on union with God. When we can accomplish this then maybe it does not matter if we are a busy priest or parent, entrepreneur in the world, or cloistered in a convent. Being in union with God, at the feet of Jesus our Lord, hearing his teaching, convinced of his mercy, and trusting in the power of his resurrection – this allows us to put into perspective all the business that can leave us anxious and divided in spirit. This is what forms and shapes us as disciples. This is what transforms our daily work into life-giving union with God.

Closing Prayer—God, eternal and all-powerful, you gave us in Saint Mary Magdalene an example of a profound hearer and perfect acceptance of your word. Grant us, through her prayer, that we ourselves may become true disciples of your Son, Jesus Christ. He who reigns for ever and ever, AMEN.

Mary and MarthaMary Magdalene and Martha

2 Responses to “Novena Tour Day 3—Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene – July 22, 2013”

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  1. Nancy Fusillo says:

    Dear Paula and company:

    Finally, the sacred day arrived for all of you! The Feast Day of St. Mary of Magdalene! So profound to witness the relic, the procession, the Mass, the nuns, and all the pilgrims who gathered on Mary’s day to pay homage to the “Apostle of the Apostles.” The photographs are so beautiful! It was if I was walking with all of you every step of the way to the cave. Magnificent…….so profoundly holy.

    Love and Blessings,

    Nancy Fusillo

  2. Dear Paula,

    These are incredible photos!!! I never had the courage to hike the rocky cliff trail to Mt. Pilon, so it is nice to see it so clearly. The crisis in my novel is set there… hope I got it right (I think so).

    Many thanks for sharing all this.


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